Soviets Freeze CFE Commitments

by Nathan Hamm on 4/26/2007 · 1 comment

Monument in Oak ParkPutin has declared that Russia should place a moratorium on meeting its commitments under the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty. (Brief primers on the treaty can be found here and here.) I am inclined to agree with Stratfor in saying that this really does not mean all that much.

…the quality of Russian ground forces has only eroded since the original treaty was implemented.

Russia is not about to start manufacturing vast numbers of tanks per year; the Russians must first maintain the tanks they have and exercise their existing tank crews. A fraction of Russia’s limit on main battle tanks is made up of modern T-80 series and T-90 tanks — of which Russia has fewer than 5,000. There is almost no chance of a substantial abrogation of the CFE in the near future in terms of massive new columns of Russian armor.

A recurring issue since the renegotiation of the treaty in 1999 has been Russia’s failure to meet its obligation to remove forces from Georgia and Moldova or to meet the requirements of the flank provisions. According to the NYT, Putin suggested that treaty compliance would be used as a bargaining chip with the West. The more things change… right? He is essentially dramatically restating the status quo.

Anyhow, my favorite part of all this so far was the following quote from Secretary of State Rice.

“The idea that somehow 10 interceptors and a few radars in Eastern Europe are going to threaten the Soviet strategic deterrent is purely ludicrous, and everybody knows it,” Ms. Rice said, slipping inadvertently into cold war terminology with her reference to the Soviet Union.

“Soviet” may have been inadvertent, but it seems there’s been a lot of cold war type talk of late.

Kind of reminds me of one of my favorite Simpsons clips…

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– author of 2991 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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{ 1 comment }

Joshua Foust April 27, 2007 at 8:23 am

What? You agree with STRATFOR? But really, I see this as reactionary on Putin’s part, not proactive. The proposed American missile defense complex in Easter Europe is a huge thorn in his side, and the Pentagon has been very vocal about converting part of its nuclear ballistic missile force over to conventional weapons (the submarine-based idea was scrapped by Congress, but now they want to convert land-based missiles).

Furthermore, President Bush hasn’t exactly been vocal about renewing the START inspection protocols. Coupled with renewed calls for developing new nuclear weapons, it’s easy to see Russia under Putin feeling threatened, just as they have with every expansion of NATO or new US base built along their southern border (as far back as 1998, high ranking members of the Duma were declaring the country in a “New Stalingrad” type situation).

At the same time, CFE was lame, and Russia’s withdrawal won’t reshape the strategic landscape of Eastern Europe. So it is a clever way for him to thumb Bush in the eye (after he looked into his soul, no less) without really changing anything. In other words, it will produce hand wringing from pundits but little else.

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